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Child Prodigy Makes NZSO Debut

4 May 2005

Media release

Child Prodigy Makes NZSO Debut

Presented by the RadioNetwork

Monika Leskovar has enraptured audiences and critics with her virtuosity as well as her unique understanding of music.

Hailed as a modern day icon in her homeland of Croatia, 24 yr-old cellist, Monika Leskovar will make her debut with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in the NZSO's second subscription concerts in May.

She began the cello at the age of seven, at the age of 12 she performed as a soloist with Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra in Budapest and one year later with Sir Yehudi Menuhin and the Philharmonia Hungarica in Belgium and Germany. By the age of 13 she had catapulted to international acclaim when she won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Japan and in doing so became the youngest ever Croatian cellist to receive international recognition.

Leskovar came to the attention of the NZSO when she won, out of a field of 18 international competitors, the 2003 Adam International Cello competition in Christchurch. NZSO Chief Executive, Peter Walls was at the final and said recently, "I was greatly impressed by Monika Leskovar at the final of the Adam International Cello Competition. She has a formidable technique and I loved her fiery account of the first Shostakovich concerto - and can't wait to hear the second concerto when she performs it with the NZSO."

Artistic Director of the competition, Alexander Ivashkin, said recently that, "Monika is such a star - she has been invited back, along with only two other past winners, to perform at the 10 year anniversary concert for the Adam International Cello competition at the Wigmore Hall this October."

Monika Leskovar, conducted by Michael Halász, will perform Saint-Saëns lyrical first cello concerto and Shostakovich's second cello concerto for performances in Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland.

Hungarian born, Michael Halász, will conduct not only these cello concerti, but also a varied diet of exciting programmes including the colourful overture and dances from Smetana's Bartered Bride, Beethoven's popular favourite, Symphony No 7 - the last piece Beethoven conducted as hearing failure soon ended his career as a performer and Dvorak's romantic and happy Symphony No 6.

Michael Halász has held the post of Resident Conductor of the Vienna State Opera since 1991. In recent years he conducted concerts and recordings with orchestras, like the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London and Zagreb Philharmonic.

Since 1995 he frequently appeared as guest-conductor on tours to Australia with ABC-Orchestras. He has worked with the NZSO once before on a 1995 recording of Liszt's Symphonic Poems.

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Saturday 21 May at 8:00pm TOWN HALL AUCKLAND*
In his first public performances with the NZSO, conductor Michael Halasz
presents the colourful Overture & Dances from Smetana's Bartered Bride and
is then joined by Monika Leskovar with one of Shostakovich's best works,
his second cello concerto dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. Beethoven's
much-loved Symphony No.7 with its immense joyous energy rounds off this
concert in great style.

Michael Halasz - Conductor
Monika Leskovar - Cello

Smetana: The Bartered Bride-Overture
Smetana: The Bartered Bride-Three Dances
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No 2 Op 126
Beethoven: Symphony No 7 in A Major Op 92
*Free Pre-concert talk by Peter Walls - 'The evening's programme'
Wellington: Ilott Chamber, 7.15pm
Auckland: Supper Room, Auckland Town Hall, 7.15pm


Thursday 19 May at 8:00pm FOUNDERS THEATRE HAMILTON
Friday 20 May at 6:30pm TOWN HALL AUCKLAND
Visiting guest conductor Michael Halasz conducts Mozart's Prague Symphony
with its light and shade and a sparkling finale that leads seamlessly into
Saint-Saëns's attractive First Cello Concerto - one of the favourites of
the cello repertoire - performed by Monika Leskovar on her first NZSO
tour. The happy mood continues with Dvorak's Symphony No.6 with its
melodies redolent of the Czech fields and forests and ending with a
scintillating coda.

Michael Halasz - Conductor Monika Leskovar - Cello

Mozart: Symphony No 38 in D Major K 504
Saint Saens: Cello Concerto No 1 in A Minor Op 33
Dvorak: Symphony No 6 in D Major Op 60

TICKETS: From $20

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